Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Out Of My Head

Muir Beach, California, USA

Christmas Day, December 25, 2008

"Goin' out of my head over you, day and night, night and day and night."
 ...  Frank Sinatra, Wes Montgomery, Little Anthony and The Imperials, Ella Fitzgerald, Lou Christie, Les McCann, Ray Conniff, Gladys Knight and The Pips, The Classics IV, Vic Damone, The Lettermen, Gloria Gaynor, Vikki Carr, The Zombies, Perez Prado, Doc Severinsen, The Lennon Sisters, Lawrence Welk, Luther Vandross, Diahann Carroll, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The 5th Dimension, et al in that order
This essay, Out Of My Head, is the third in a group of eleven written on Christmas Day:
  1. High Class Zen
  2. Holiday Service
  3. Out Of My Head
  4. How To Enroll The World
  5. Holiday Service II
  6. A Game Worth Playing
  7. Peace On Earth And Good Will To All People: A Possibility
  8. Five Star Restaurant
  9. Direct Experience
  10. Thirteen Hawks A-Soaring
  11. Staying In Integrity
in that order.

I am indebted to Jon Toellner who inspired this conversation, and to Anna Taglieri who contributed material.

A friend of mine called me in a mild panic. His life, as he explained it, was careening out of control. He said he was "losing it". There wasn't just a lot of stuff  going on he had to deal with. He was also trapped  by his compulsion to explain, to come up with a reason  for everything. And what was fueling his concern like gasoline on a wildfire was he wasn't able  to come up with a reason.

You've heard the way people say it: "There must be a reason.". Or they say "Everything happens for a reason.". And when there isn't one (and mostly, there isn't a reason - things are just the way they are and just the way they aren't), they're in trouble. That's where he was: in trouble. He said he was "going out of his head".

"That's sounds interesting" I said. "What's it like?".

Taken somewhat aback that I was interested rather than concerned, he said slowly "Well ..." and then, reassigned the role of observer  rather than sufferer, grateful for the opportunity to vent, he began a detailed, lucid account of the events in his life and of his state of mind, the state of mind he called "going out of his head". By the time he was complete, none of the events in his life had changed. And yet he, simply by becoming the observer again, was now elated, a participant in his own life once again rather than its victim. He hadn't worked anything out. He didn't have any new answers to his concerns. He had an empowering new context  for his life and his experience. He began to laugh at the seriousness  of it all. Then, upon seeing how insistent  he was on ascribing meaning and significance  to everything, he let out a long, slow, sigh. "Wow!" he said. "There's nothing happening any particular way other than the particular way I say it's happening.".

How profound! Change the content, and you can spend a lifetime fixing your life. Shift the context, and you have a new life now ... and now  ... and now.

We talked some more about how the same concern spoken within a different context completely shifts the nature of the concern, with no action  required to alleviate the concern. Specifically, when a mind says "I'm going out of my head", it implies a certain insanity, a craziness. When the Self says "I'm going out of my head", it implies reaching for something truly great.

The completely, radically  different implications of the same statement when spoken by a mind and when spoken by the Self, is one of those pithy saws  in life which, whether we agree with it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we have a better idea  than it or not, is simply what's so.

As a joke, I suggested he make a sign to remind himself, with a large arrow on it pointing to his head and big red lettering saying:

Don't Go In Here Alone!

A mind isn't likely to get this is what's so. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with a mind not getting this is what's so. That's because a mind can't  get this is what's so. Only the Self can get this is what's so.

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